This is a photograph of Barack Obama’s 27-year old chief speechwriter Jon Favreau mock-groping the breast of a Hillary Clinton cardboard cutout, while another “Obama Staff” member mock-nuzzles its ear. It’s been a hot topic on some feminist political blogs this weekend–see for example the threads at Corrente, Shakesville, and now Talk Left. (The original source of the story appears to be this posting at the Washington Post blog “44.”) Susie at Suburban Guerrilla offers some interesting thoughts on the context of this behavior–she says that it’s testosterone and alcohol that fuel most local, state, and national political campaigns, and so she is unsurprised to see Favreau & company behaving like this.
Most commenters on the aforementioned blogs see this photograph as confirmation of a disturbing misogynist frat party culture they see in the culture at large and saw in the Obama campaign all along, built around male privilege and the objectification and subordination of women. Some commenters agree that the photograph (and behavior it documents) is objectionable, but hey, it would be ridiculous to trash a young man’s career for a foolish prank. (File this one under “social networking sites can be professional suicide,” all you twentysomethings!)
What do you think?
UPDATE, 12/7/08, 3:30 P.M. MST: This squib at CNN (posted yesterday) suggests that the photo was on Favreau’s Facebook account, because after using the passive voice to say that the photo “appeared on Facebook Friday,” it then states that “the picture was reportedly up for a scant two hours or so before Favreau removed it, along with every other picture of himself beyond his profile photo.” So if he removed it, presumably he was the person who posted it, unless there are other people he has permitted to post things to his account. This article also says that the photo was taken “at a recent party,” which is rather odd. Did they think that they were campaigning to defeat Hillary Clinton in the general election? She campaigned her heart out for Obama, so that level of hostility and need to express sexual dominance strikes me as extremely strange. Does anyone else think that this guy should keep his job now?